Whether you’re dealing with dark coarse hairs or peach fuzz, female facial hair is a common yet embarrassing everyday problem.
Luckily, at-home products and dermatologist treatment have made facial hair removal more safe, effective and painless than ever. Dr. Anna Bar, M.D., a dermatologist at Oregon Health and Science University explained to Elle how to keep your face smooth and fuzz free.
The most common cause of female facial hair is familial hirsutism, a genetic tendency toward excess hair growth. However, a number of diseases and conditions can cause facial hair growth in women, so it’s important to get checked by a doctor to rule out such conditions as.polycystic ovary syndrome, pituitary tumors, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, liver disease or a hormonal imbalance like increased androgens or prolactin.
Doctors can easily treat these conditions with oral medications like birth control pills or anti-androgens. Medications like testosterone, Prednisone, anti-seizure medications, Temoxifen and anabolic steroids, as well as hormonal changes surrounding pregnancy and menopause, can also increase hair growth.
“Some studies have suggested that repeated trauma to vellus (fine) hairs in a susceptible individual can cause those fine hairs to convert to thicker, darker ones,” Bar explained the controversial idea that removed facial hair grows in coarser to Elle. “Others contend that the thickness and texture of the hair is influenced more by hormonal factors than by the removal method.
“And some believe that repeated trauma to a follicle, such as tweezing, can cause it to permanently decrease hair growth, such as women who over-tweeze their eyebrows and lose that hair permanently. More research is needed in this area. We do know that shaving and depilatories, which remove the hair at the surface and not the root, cannot change the essential character or growth rate of the hair, so those are a safe bet.”
Although waxing, plucking, threading and depilatories all remove hair at the root and therefore keep new hair away longer, they’re all painful treatments that can cause temporary results and ingrown hairs. Waxing can also cause burns and skin irritation.
Prescriptions creams like Vaniqa decrease hair growth by blocking enzymes responsible for hair production. Unfortunately, such creams are only effective while being used, so hair grows back if you stop use. While they can be messy and pungent, at-home depilatories for facial hair are also a good option.
Women with facial dermatitis, eczema or sensitive skin should avoid waxing or using depilatories. Those who use such topical medications as Renova, Tretinoin, Differin, Tazorac or Retinol should also avoid such hair removal techniques, since these medications can make skin more sensitive, increase the risk of irritation and even cause contact dermatitis.
“Laser hair removal with Alexandrite, Diode and Nd: Yag lasers, available at many dermatology offices, is typically less painful than waxing, doesn’t require you to grow out hair between treatments, and can result in permanent hair reduction after several sessions,” Bar told Elle. “Lasers have long been most effective for dark hair on fair skin, but recent advancements mean that now darker skin types and lighter hair can be successfully treated.”
“Usually patients with darker skin require gentler treatments and so could need more sessions. Lasers still aren’t great for very light blond, gray and white hair because the laser targets the melanin pigment in the root of the hair and these hair colors don’t have much pigment. For those, I’d recommend using Vaniqa.”